The Pratyabhijna Philosophy

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Item Code: NAC513
Author: G.V. Tagare
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 9788120818927
Pages: 172
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Weight 380 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket

In India, philosophy, be it Jam, Buddhist or Vedic (Brahmanical) is the basis of some pathway to Liberation (Moksa). So is Pratyabhijna ‘recognition’, ‘recognition that man or every individu4l soul is no other than the Supreme Soul or Parama Siva Himself’. This inspiring concept uplifts the spirit of the downtrodden and transforms him into a dignified pilgrim on the path to Moksa. Pratyabhijna, declares its formulator, is for the well-being of the common man (janasyopakaraya). It presents the historical account of its teachers. To make the reading easy and intelligible its technical terms are explained.

The book also explains how “Pratyabhijna” system was formulated and developed by the great teachers. It contains also essence of Ksemaraja’s book Pratyabhijna –hrdaya which explains both the philosophy and ways of Siva realization and even a layman can understand what Pratyabhijna is. Next it reviews the Pratyabhijna doctrine by the great Vedanta scholar Madhavacarya.

It also presents a brief survey of the argument and explains the relevance of Pratyabhijna.

The book contains a glossary of technical terms and bibliography to make the reading comprehensive.

DR. G.V. Tagare, MA. B.T, Ph.D. (b.1911) is a versatile writer on Indology, linguistics and Education. He was a Professor of Education in the Secondary Training (S.M.T.T.) College at Kolhapur. Besides contributing papers on Education (including Audiovisual Education) to various educational journals he carried out research in linguistics (Middle lndo-Aryan and Marathi) and discovered a number of old unpublished Sanskrit and Marathi Ma These papers were published in various Indological and other research journals.

His varied interests will be seen from the following list of his books: English: Translations (with annotations and Introduction) of Puranas such as Bhagavata (5 Vols.), Narada (5 Vols.), Kurma (2 Vols.), Brahmanda (5 Vols, Vayu, Skanda Purana (17 Vols.).

Linguistics: Historical Grammar of Apabhramsa. Marathi: History of Pall Literature (Continental, Poona). Jainism: Kundakunda’s Pravanasastra (Sahitya Sanskrit Mandal of Maharashtra State).

Kashmir Saivism: Vasugupta’s Spanda Karika (Yashoda Pub., Satan); Saiva Philosophy (Tattvajnana Mahakosh Mandal, Poona).


In India, philosophy, be it Jain, Buddhist or Vedic (Brahmanical) is the basis of some pathway to Liberation (MoI4a). So is Pratyabhijna ‘recognition’, ‘recognition that man or every individual soul is no other than the Supreme Soul or Parama Siva Himself’. This inspiring concept uplifts the spirit of the down-trodden and transforms him into a dignified pilgrim on the path to Moksa. Pratyabhijna, declares its formulator, is for the wellbeing of the common man (Janasyopakardya). It is true (as shown in the Introduction) that some of the concepts are anticipated by the Vedanta teacher Adi Sankara, but the credit of formulating the system goes to Vasugupta’s disciple Somananda (circa A.D. 825-900).

Somananda found that the paths (Upayas) to Moksa—Sabhava, Sakta and Anava, enunciated in the Siva Sutra, are not suitable to ordinary householders as they involve Yogic exercises like Pranayama, Bandha, etc. He studied deeply the ancient Agamas and discovered a new path (margo navah). Abhinavagupta points out that the term ‘navah’ (New) means ‘which was unnoticed till then’. Somananda who repeated his guru’s (Vasugupta’s) premise of Man being Siva himself, devised paths based on psychology. Somananda, Utpala, Abhinavagupta, Ksemaraja were a line of teachers who systematically developed the doctrine and practices of Pratyabhijna (circa 900-1100 AD.). It was briefly reviewed by the great Vedanta scholar Madhavacarya (14th century) who subsequently occupied the post of Sankaracarya at Srngeri (Karnataka).

The historical account of these teachers is briefly stated in the first chapter. As Pratyabhijna is a special branch of philosophy, it uses special technical terms, which though similar in spelling to Vedantic terms, have a different implication. These terms are explained in the second chapter.

The third chapter explains how “Pratyabhijna” system was formulated and developed by the great teachers like Somananda, its systematic formulator, Utpala and by the great polymath Abhinavagupta of this school of philosophy. The scholarly treatment of Pratyabhijna by these teachers was beyond the capacity to understand in the case of persons who have not studied Nyaya or some such discipline. As Ksemaraja, the author of Pratyabhijna -hrdaya (the heart or essence of Pratyabhijna) states in the Introduction of his work, his book was meant for people who have not studied Dialectics and have not developed intellectual capacity to understand Pratyabhijna — “for people of slow understanding” as he puts it. In fact Ksemaraja’s book is a layman’s guide to Pratyabhijna —as it explains both the philosophy and the different ways of Siva realization. I have devoted chapter fourth for this important work. Chapter fifth is the review of the Pratyabhijna doctrine by the great Vedanta scholar Madhavacarya. The Epilogue (in addition to a brief survey of the argument) explains the relevance of Pratyabhijna. We are now clearly in the 21st century.

As usual a glossary of technical terms used in the book and bibliography are supplied. I take this opportunity to express my gratefulness to my publisher Shri N.P. Jam of the Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi for kindly allowing me the use of their publications in this book. I sincerely thank the publisher for the beautiful production of this book.

I hope and pray “May Lord Siva be pleased with this last Bilva leaf- at His feet.”


Kashmir the land of sage Kasyapa, the domain of Nila Naga, is a beautiful land with snow-capped mountains, lakes with blooming lotuses, full of fragrance of sweet-scenting flowers and saffron. It is a piece of the Nandana Vana of Svarga (heaven, the abode of gods) descended on the earth. The bounteous Nature of Kashmir influenced the culture of the people and made them so tolerant and accommodative.

The Nilamata Purana and Rajatarangini, the saga of ancient Kashmir, describe how those people followed a polytheistic religion with special veneration to Siva and his spouse—a simple religion unencumbered with any baggage’ of philosophy.

It is not known when Buddhism came to be introduced in Kashmir, credit for which is given to Ashok (either of the Maurya Dynasty of Magadha or of the local Gonanda Dynasty), mentioned by Kalhana in Rajatarangini (I. 101-102). Kashmiris being tolerant accommodated Buddha in their pantheon.

As A. Stein noted in his introduction to Rajatarangini (p.9Y: “For centuries before Kalhana’s time, Buddhism and the orthodox creeds existed peacefully side by side in Kashmir....of almost all royal and private individuals, who are credited with the foundation of Buddhist Stupas and Viharas. .. .with equal zeal endowed also shrines of Siva and Visnu.”

The peaceful coexistence of Buddhists and Saivas continued to the end of the 2nd century A.D. When King Kaniska (AD. 125-160) gifted Kashmir to the Buddhist Church, Nagarajuna (some say Nagabodhi)’ energetically undertook the task of the spread of Buddhism. Practices of old local religion described in the Nilamata Purana were prohibited — a fact noted in the Rajatarangini (1.178).

This enraged Nila Naga, the presiding deity of Kashmir. He sent down heavy, destructive snow-fall on Kashmir. At last, Candradeva, a Brahmin of Kasyapa gotra, appeased the Naga and the old religion prescribed in the Nilamata Purana was re-established.

Despite the attempts of Brahmins (Candradeva is their representative in the Purana), the religion that was re-established lacked the pristine purity of the pre-Buddhist period. It was a harmonious mixture or amalgam of the meditative and philosophical aspect of Buddhism and the ritualistic aspect of old Saivism. They had to accommodate Buddha in their pantheon like Brahmanical Puranas which accepted Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Visnu.

We cannot, however, ascertain the nature of the Buddhist influence on the re-established Kashmir Saivism as no scriptures of that religion are available. It was the visit of Adi Sankara to Kashmir that gave a coup race to Buddhism in Kashmir. The visit is described in the Sankara Digvijaya (XVI.54-80) and is confirmed by the local tradition. The visit is supposed to have taken place in the 8th century AD., but as the note on Sankara’s date in the footnote shows, due to Bhvaviveka’s (a Buddhist philosopher) reference to Sankara’s grand-teacher Gaudapada, Sankara must be located in the 6th century AD. Sankara, the philosopher, an advocate of Kevaladvaita in his commentary on the Brahma Sutra, was personally a follower of the Tantric system in Sri-cakra worship. The practice is still followed in the Sankara Matha at Srngeri (Karnataka). He naturally introduced (sanctioned) the Tantra form of Siva worship in Kashmir which was originally dominated by Saivism. Sankara’s famous stotras (eulogies) Saundaryalahan and Daksinamurti are enough to show Sankara being a follower of Tantricism.

Following Dr. KC. Pandey, I specifically mentioned the above two stotras as they constituted as it were the foundation of the Pratyabhijna doctrine long before the ancestors of Abhinavagupta and Somananda (the founder of Pratyabhijna doctrine) migrated to Kashmir. Dr. KC. Pandey in his standard work on Abhinavagupta (p.88) points out that the concept of the Ultimate Reality and important technical terms used by Sankara in the above-mentioned stotras are the same as those in the Pratyabhijna system.


Preface vii
Introduction ix
Abbreviations xiii
1. Teachers of the Pratyabhijna Doctrine 1
2. Pratyabhijna Philosophy: Some Fundamental Concepts15
3. Isvara-Pratyabhijna-Vimarsini 41
4. Ksemaraja on Pratyabhijna Philosophy 71
5. Madhavacarya on Pratyabhijna Philosopohy 113
6. Epilogue 123
Notes 127
Glossary of Sanskrit Terms 147
Bibliography 159
Index 161
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